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Los Alamos

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  1,897 Ratings  ·  195 Reviews
In a dusty, remote community of secretly constructed buildings and awesome possibility, the world's most brilliant minds have come together. Their mission: to split an atom and end a war. But among those who have come to Robert Oppenheimer's "enchanted campus" of foreign-born scientists, baffled guards, and restless wives is a simple man, an unraveler of human secrets—a ma ...more
Published (first published May 5th 1997)
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Aug 17, 2008 Johnny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, thriller
To those to whom names like Oppenheimer, Fermi, Teller, and Lawrence ring a bell, as well as those for whom Trinity tolls, Los Alamos is a terrific “period piece.” Naturally, it is set in the latter years of WWII in the midst of those working on the Manhattan Project. Karon’s feel for the period is outstanding. The unnamed effort at the Daily Worker, the funeral of Roosevelt along with its attendant uneasiness about Truman’s unknown quantity, and the reality that the European expatriates at the ...more
Dec 05, 2010 Lori rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010december
I bought this at a library sale (50 cents!) based on its blurbs alone. And according to those, I thought I'd discovered a better book.

Given that I was both interested in the book's physical location and its temporal setting PLUS quickly found that Kanon has a gift for language, Los Alamos should've been a great read. But it had an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink feel.

Not interested in murder? How about war? Or espionage? Or the atomic bomb? None of those work for you? What about adultery? Bigamy
Jun 07, 2012 David rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, ibooks
I had read that Kanon's writing is similar to that of Alan Furst (a favorite author), so I thought I'd give Kanon a try. He's not anywhere near Furst. Once I got past my disappointment, I continued with the book and found it wordy with a pretty simple plot. The dialogue between the main character and his new girlfriend is the most stilted I've read in quite some time. Then the main character, just a minor security agent for some US agency, is going to "protect" Oppenheimer (sorry, Oppie) from th ...more
Feb 01, 2013 Goge rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great thriller. It takes place during the World War II and the work or group of scientist who are building an atomic bomb. It was top secret thing but still people start to die. The pace of the story is fluid and natural, the characters are well built and the story itself is thrilling, intriguing and you can't even guess the guilty party until almost the end of the book. Don't you just love people with flaws? This is a great read.
Benjamin Thomas
This is a novel that combines historical fiction with a murder mystery with an added side dish of espionage thriller. It takes place in 1945 Los Alamos, the home of the top secret Manhattan Project and the birth place of the atomic bomb. The plot follows Michael Connolly, assigned to investigate the disappearance and death of a security officer on “The Hill”. His investigation leads him through the very secret nature of the town site of Los Alamos and the surrounding area, the scientific communi ...more
Sep 28, 2013 B.V. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The plot of Los Alamos hinges on a fictional protagonist, civilian intelligence liaison Michael Connolly, brought in to investigate the murder of a Los Alamos security officer, his face bashed in and his pants pulled down. Connolly is asked to discover whether the crime is more than the violent sex crime it appears to be, even while those associated with the project--paranoid over security leaks and the specter of Communists everywhere--would prefer it be just that. Nice and tidy. Of course it i ...more
Mar 17, 2011 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who has been to Los Alamos
Recommended to Jennifer by: Kelly
Shelves: read-2011
This read like one of those old-fashioned thrillers set in a specific historical period that my parents used to read when I was a kid (and I would often sneak a read when they were done) and that's a compliment actually. Joseph Kanon's novel takes place at the end of the war in Los Alamos where Oppenheimer and his band of scientists are working towards the first real test of the atomic bomb--a moment before the world changed forever.

Michael Connolly, a former NYC reporter and now PR guy for the
Harry Forsdick
I mostly read non-fiction. My issue with fiction is that in the need to create a mood and an environment, fiction moves too slowly for me. And when it does move fast enough, the plot frequently seems contrived and important detail too convenient.

Perhaps after being on vacation for 2 weeks, I have finally slowed down enough to enjoy this piece of fiction. Almost certainly, the author, Joseph Kanon is a good writer who has written a fictionalized story about facts that I am quite familiar with. An
Patrick Gibson
This is a well crafted murder mystery (with a little espionage thrown in). It may drag a bit, and the author insists on a hackneyed illicit love affair, which, of course, leads to the murderer (whom you’ve been introduced too as an ancillary character). And there are multiple endings; so much so that the actual climax is kind of a let-down. Don’t get me wrong. This is well written and researched. The mix of historical figures (especially an eerily accurate portrait of Oppenheimer) with fictional ...more
Apr 16, 2015 Peacejanz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful mystery on many levels. After a death, off base, of a security officer when the atomic bomb is being developed at Los ALamos in the 1940s, the base commander calls in an unknown agent to find out if security has been breached. The new man, Michael Connolly, faces constant objections and false leads. This is a delightful novel, published almost 20 years ago and makes the reader wonder what the government is keeping secret now.
Dec 27, 2010 Jim rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
This was the first book of Kanon's that I read, and I was really impressed by the combination of thought and thriller writing that had gone into it. My memory of it is that, when it came to The Bomb, the end justified the means. Or was it the means justified the end? Anyway, The Holocaust justified it all, that's what I remember. Or at least I think that's what I remember. Apart from it being a damn good read.
Dec 20, 2016 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very noir book. It begins with the killing of a security officer at Los Alamos, New Mexico, in 1945, in the months before the creation of the atomic bomb. The body was found with his pants pulled down, and the first assumption is that the killing was the result of a homosexual assignation gone wrong. But nothing is what it appears to be ...
May 29, 2012 Bobbi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This was an interesting story about a murder at Los Alamos during the creation of the atomic bomb. I can imagine that the atmosphere was similar to that described in the book. The search for the killer was well told until the end. I won't tell you what it is, but it was so weak that it sort of spoiled the whole book for me.
Jun 04, 2017 Jack rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Murder, at the Los Alamos research facility, just before the end of the Second World War. Though the novel looses steam midway though, regaining some of it near the end, the novel offers a whodunit at a rather unique location: the facility in the middle of the desert that centers around the efforts to create the so-called "gadget" - the atomic bomb.

A bit too much of the book, unfortunately, centers around the illicit romance between Michael Connolly and Emma. And some of the writing could be imp
Jun 05, 2017 Mary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A slow read about what was happening in Los Alamos, NM back in the 40s. I lived in Santa Fe for a short time some 40 yrs later and there was still a stigma about Los Alamos. I never visited there but heard rumors. I enjoyed the descriptions of that part of NM, a place that seems timeless. The characters and the science and espionage were dull and somewhat over my head. I'm not likely to seek out another book by this author.
Jul 12, 2017 Jak60 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Did not finish.....started Los Alamos after reading Defectors, which I found very good, but I could not connect with neither story (boring) nor characters (flat).
Leslie Monteath
Jul 08, 2017 Leslie Monteath rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
New Mexico, WWII, Manhattan Project, thermodynamics science, suspense, Red spies, and a love affair between two clever characters - it hit all my fiction buttons
Tim Dart
Feb 21, 2017 Tim Dart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book! Smart, well written. He's written other books, too.
From JK author page, click on Prodigal Spy and read Mal Warwick's review of JK's other books. Interesting comments.
Roger Weir
Mar 07, 2017 Roger Weir rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent mixture of fact and fiction with a tight mystery as well. Nice writing style possibly a little dialogue heavy but enjoyable none the less.

Will read more from this author.
Roger Weir
Mar 07, 2017 Roger Weir rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very Interesting

Really enjoyed the mix of fiction and fact, a nice change. A satisfying story from start to finish.

I will more from this author.
A man lies dead in Santa Fe, but the answer to 'whodunit' lies in the hills above the city -- or on The Hill, the site of the Los Alamos Laboratory, where something very mysterious is being cooked up. The Hill's residents, many of them foreign scientists, are not even known by name; if a local sheriff asks them for their I.D., the card they present merely has a number. They are the creators of the most secret project in human history, and easily one of the most expensive: the Manhattan Project. ...more
Patrick Barry
Mar 11, 2015 Patrick Barry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought The Good German and Los Alamos at the same time (at the Agoura Hills, CA, Book Cellar, hardbacks for $1.00 each!), having seen the movie The Good German, with George Clooney, Cate Blanchet and Toby Maguire. Since Los Alamos was Joseph Kanon’s debut novel, I read it first, and with great interest. I like to study first novels of authors, to see what I insights I can gain on how they define themselves and their style and to learn from the exercise if possible.

As a Harvard educated vetera
Jan 31, 2010 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

It's the height of the Manhattan Project and one of the security officers at Los Alamos is murdered in circumstances which suggest a gay quarrel. But the project's military head wants to cover all possibilities and seconds intelligence officer Mike Connolly, an NYC investigative journalist in peacetime, to check that everything is as the cops think it is and there has been no security breach. Connolly does indeed find the waters are far murkier than anyone had thought possible; and in the proces
Sep 03, 2013 Bonnie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Joseph Kanon uses the murder of a security guard for the Manhattan Project to tell the story of the building of the "gadget" as the scientists referred to the Atom Bomb. Karl Bruner was found in the small town of Santa Fe with his pants pulled down around his legs and his head bashed in. Michael Connolly, a ex-reporter, is sent to Los Alamos to discover if there is a security risk on the Hill. Oppenheimer is head of the team of scientists working on the project and he gives Michael full authorit ...more
While some authors follow a character over time, involving them in one story after another, Joseph Kanon chooses to write about a given time period in modern history, namely 1945. After enjoying his 2001 novel The Good German, set in recently occupied Berlin in 1945, I took out Los Alamos, his 1997 debut novel that is set in, naturally, Los Alamos NM in the final weeks of the Manhattan Project in the summer of 1945.
In addition to the time period, the books have many elements in common. Both ta
May 30, 2015 Jill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent thriller with an ending that I found satisfying. So many thrillers have you gasping "What? Who? Them? No!" when you discover who the villain is, or villains are, but this one had a thumping "oh yes - THEM! of course!" when you discover who the baddies are.

It's well paced, with lots of good 'reveals' along the way, as the various betrayals (of both personal, sexual, professional, political, ethical and inter/national varieties) are divulged. So many flawed humans making both well- and s
M.H. Vesseur
Jan 02, 2014 M.H. Vesseur rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beyond general crime fiction lies the realm of the truly unique authors, those who add something that makes their novels stand apart. I can vouch for “Los Alamos” as being a novel in that special realm. Joseph Kanon has created a completely unique atmosphere, situated at the site where, in the 1940, the atomic bomb was being invented and prepared for its debut at Hiroshima. This author has the knowledge and skill to create a fictional crime story while also presenting us with facts. Los Alamos, ...more
David S.
I feel like I have said this before. Something about how every man that lived during World War I is just one Manhattan away from back handing what ever woman is near him. Well unfortunately, the main character in this book is written no differently. I understand that Los Alamos came out in the mid 90's during the resurgence of the hard boiled, womanizing, detective. I guess I am just tired of the character type that is limited in his depth because of his lack of emotion.

Micheal Connelly is that
William Koon
I enjoy Joseph Kanon’s works. This read was a stroll down memory lane to his first novel. And it’s a good one. Although the trappings are of a murder mystery, the larger scene is the greatest question of the twentieth century: should we have built the bomb?

His protagonist Michael Connolly is an outsider sent to solve a murder in the waning days of the bomb’s building in the New Mexican desert. He must sift through some very convincing red herrings such as the victim being murdered because he wa
Kerstin Lampert
Aug 10, 2015 Kerstin Lampert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's not that the coincidence of 70 years, since the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki occurred this August....

It's not that the President and Secretary of State just completed negotiations with Iran on the use of nuclear materials for other than "peaceful" purposes...

It's not that we have millions of Syrian regugees streaming out of the Middle East headed for Germany, to escape sure death at the hands of the dictator-leader of their country.

It's not that we have the wackiest Presidential electi
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